Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Casey Anthony: Motions and Commotion - Part 2

I've been following trials since OJ Simpson and have shared my opinions on any number of message boards and here on Trials & Tribulations. Thanks to the Casey Anthony murder case, I have had the rare opportunity to follow the original crime as well as all of the trial preparation materials made available to the public under the Florida Sunshine Laws.

I have had some legal training with some fine attorneys, but I am mainly an educator with a firm grip on the use of the English language. When I read the motions, I focus mainly on the common sense as well as all I have learned through training, research, and many hours of trial watching and reporting.

That being said, I can assure you that I have no crystal ball as to the outcome of these motions. I do have a feeling, however, that the results will be a mixed bag.

The first motion, the Omnibus Motion To Exclude Heresay Evidence, Gossip, And Innuendo is accompanied by a Memorandum Of Law and a 24-page table of Compiled Hearsay Statements. This is unlike anything I have ever heard of. The defense obviously set their student volunteers to reading every document, every interview,every deposition submitted in discovery, the transcripts of Cindy Anthony's 911 calls and combed them for every possible heresay statement! If you go to the link, rotate the text and read a few items, you will get the general idea.

Now, in the motion, the defense admits that there are exceptions to the heresay rule, but wants the judge to rule all these or many of these statements inadmissible in court. Somehow, I don't thing that is going to happen.

First, Linda Drane Burdick and Jeff Ashton, are fine attorneys who know how to deal with heresay! In addition, not everything that is in the interviews and depositions will be brought up at trial. If so, the trial could take years and years. Also, most of the information on the chart can be brought into the trial by asking the appropriate witness.

For example, on the third page of the chart, there are two of statements that Yuri Melich made to Leonard Turtora concerning phone calls he made to Cindy Anthony and possibly Zenaida Gonzalez. Well, why on earth would any self-respecting attorney ask Turtora what Melich did when Melich himself is a witness in the case? One of the two is labeled "double heresay" because it is assumed that Melich told Turtora what Cindy said. Come trial time, Drane Burdick or Ashton could ask (if it was necessary in trial) who he called. While Melich probably can't say what Cindy told him, he can say what he did as a result of the call.

Second, I can't imagine Judge Strickland holding a marathon hearing and going through those 24 pages of supposed heresay and hearing arguments on each item.

The most amazing part of the motion and memorandum comes in when discussing Cindy Anthony's 911 calls. The defense wants them out of the case for very understandable reasons. I am surprised, however, that they have not asked to have the very first phone call excluded as well! In that call, Cindy inadvertently broadcasts her threat to take custody of Caylee as well as accusing Casey of auto theft and thefts for which she has bank records. The phone calls the defense references are actually the 2nd and 3rd calls.

At this point, it would be a good idea to listen to the all 3 phone calls to refresh your memory.

Initial Call
"First Call"
"Second Call"

The discussion of the calls begins on page 4 and continues on for a few more pages. I'd highly recommend reading all the text, but I'll pull out some snips and pieces for the sake of the discussion. I will also omit references and just include the basic text.

Cynthia Anthony's calls were made under calm circumstances. She informed the 911 operator that she wanted her daughter to be arrested for stealing money and a car that had already been returned. (pp. 4-5)

Actually, the "first" call was relatively calm. Cindy would later state that she was just trying to "scare" Casey into telling her where Caylee was.

By the "second" call, Cindy had learned that Caylee had been missing for 31 days and that the nanny supposedly kidnapped her. I believe at this point Cindy finally put the putrid odor and her missing granddaughter into perspective and totally panicked . Nevertheless, the defense writes,

Cynthia Anthony is more agitated and upset during this call. Bet despite the fact that she says she just found out that her granddaughter had been taken and is missing, the fact remains that the child had been missing for a month and Cynthia Anthony was aware of that fact. (p. 5)

Hello? Cindy had just learned that the child had been supposedly kidnapped! Yes, she was aware that Caylee had been out of the house for a month... but kidnapped?

There is nothing the police can respond to at the house, as the child has already been missing for a long period of time. They can only ask what happened to establish facts about the crime. (p. 5)

There was something the police could do and they did respond to at the house. That's why all those police officers came to Hopespring Drive to interview Casey. By the next morning, the detectives had a rather large number of facts about the crime, all of them lies by the missing child's mother. When the defense later goes into some details that a "nanny" was named as the suspect, the defense nicely leaves out the fact that when Cindy reported the situation she thought the "nanny" was the criminal and it turned out that it was her daughter who was charged with the crime. It's called karma!

Factors a judge should consider to determine whether the necessary excitement or stress is present are the age of the declarant, the physical and mental condition of the defendant, the characteristics of the event and the subject matter of the statements. Cindy Anthony is not a child, in good physical and mental health, and even though she found out upsetting news the subject matter of the calls are things she had been dealing with for some time. The same considerations are true for Casey Anthony, and though she is younger she was not in danger of any physical harm at the time of making the call and calmly explained the events to the 911 operator. (p. 7)

The defense has clearly shown what their strategy at trial is going to be in this little snippet. They indicate that Cindy, as a well-balanced, healthy, mature adult could easily swallow the concept of her granddaughter being missing so that the second call, while somewhat stressful, is not an excited utterance!

As for Casey's lack of concern when speaking to the 911 operator, the defense attributes that to the fact that she's known her daughter has been missing for a month! Unbelievable.

I have a feeling we will soon have a motion to bar Casey's first call home because Casey knows police are on the case and it is normal for her to want to talk to her boyfriend!

I don't think this motion will get past the judge...

The next motion is the Motion To Exclude Lay Opinion Testimony. The defense is attempting to keep out any information that would show Casey in a bad light.

2. In these interviews, law enforcement repeatedly solicited--and Miss Anthony's friends and acquaintances repeatedly offered--their opinions as to Miss Anthony's overall character, motives and undisclosed intentions, and character for truthfulness.

The motion continues by saying that some of the people who spoke to LE went to the media and spoke of Casey's character. The memorandum that is attached to the motion goes into details about the situation, specifically mentioning media appearances or statements made by Jesse Grund, Chris Stutz, Amy Huizenga, and Rick Plesea, Cindy Anthony's brother.

In addition, the toss in Yuri Melich. Do you remember the interview at Universal? Melich and John Allen confront Casey over all the lies she told them. The fact is, Casey admits that she lied, although she doesn't back off from the Zanny the Nanny story.

As with the "heresay" motion, there are probably items in this motion that the judge might grant. I doubt any witness would be able to attribute a motivation to the crime. That's the prosecution's job! The motive will be thick in opening and closing arguments, no doubt about it. They aren't testimony.

As for Casey's propensity for lying. I can't imagine how this will never come out at trial. She lied to the police, she lied to her friends, she lied to everyone. She lied about Sawgrass, she lied about getting the house, she lied about her whereabouts. Probably the best witness to Casey's lies will actually be her mother, who, almost incessantly told LE and the State Casey's various cover stories. Lying was (and probably still is) a way of life for her. Even Judge Strickland indicated such when, at the bond hearing, he said, "The truth and Ms. Anthony are strangers".

The last motion filed yesterday was the Motion To Exclude Irrelevant Evidence of Party Pictures with the Memorandum Supporting Party Picture Motion. This is a more typical motion one would expect in such a trial. The defense clearly doesn't want all the party pictures of Casey allowed into evidence. Their reasons are quite clear as indicated in the memorandum.

The photographs at issue in this case depict Miss Anthony drinking alcohol, wearing revealing clothing, and dancing on stages at nightclubs. They also depict her in close contact with a number of different men and women as she dances. Some of the photos depict Miss Anthony at a party, wearing nothing but an American flag costume. Still others depict Miss Anthony appearing to be intoxicated. These photographs do not bear on a single issue in this case. Their only value is to paint a picture to the jury of an irresponsible, drunken, promiscuous, and wild defendant. (p. 4)

The defense indicates that the Fusian pictures are not even necessary as witnesses can attest to Casey Anthony's presence there and her behavior.

The judge will certainly not allow in every single photo that has been in the media. It wouldn't surprise me if allows one or two from Fusian. He will have to way the probative value of the pictures allowed in as compared to the prejudicial value to the defendant.

Well, we're on to the release of more documents tomorrow! I'm sure we are all anxious to see what the Sunshine Laws have to offer up.


katfish said...

Thanks for all of the time you have put into breaking this all down for us. I hope you feel as though it is time well spent....I DO...and really appreciate it. just wanted to let you know. :)

ritanita said...


You most welcome. I've never had the opportunity to follow a case from beginning to end! I find it fascinating and this has been one crazy ride!

I must say that I've been following your Nicholas Sheley coverage. I get a bit behind at times, but always manage to catch up when the Casey case slows down.

I would love to be able to attend hearings and trials in my case the way you have been doing. Keep up the good work!

donchais said...

Bravo ritanita! Excellent job!

Poor Judge Strickland, having to wade through all this garbage. Hey, you already did! Just pick up the phone and call him and tell him what to keep and throw out, lol.

Thanks for all your hard work!

FRG said...

Excellent job as usual!!!
Well, as a layperson those are a bunch of "twisted wording Motions" although I know as you stated before it's part of the process. So now everybody is out there to get KC right??? Are they kidding me?
First of all, they forgot to write in their Motions they (defense) have been on National Media to taint the potential jury pool, poor Ms. Anthony have sold her daughter's photo to make money to pay for her defense, her own parents have been on National Media selling Caylee's photos and videos. So, everybody else's actions are worse than poor Ms. Anthony right? That's so stupid in my opinion.
The hearing on these Motions will be worth watching, Mr. Ashton and Mrs. Drane-Burdick are very competent and I am sure they will make good arguments, I have no doubt about it. Who will be arguing in the hearings, JB??? Don't tell me so. I don't know who I despise the most, AL or JB.
Thank you for your great article!!!

ritanita said...


There is no way Strickland will wade through that 24-page document and rule on each-and-every "heresay" statement a year out from trial!

The 911 calls HAVE to stay in. They show clearly the progression of panic in Cindy's mind, leading to the "excited utterance" she made in the last one.

The other two hold more chance of being taken seriously by the Court. I just don't think the defense will ever arrive at the point where Casey is the perfect "Mother of the Year"!

LOL! They are playing THE 911 call on InSession right now!

She made a very good comment, that if it is testimonial in nature, it's not coming in. If it was really and emergency call, it comes in. That helps explain why the defense is saying it wasn't an emergency!

Are you buying that?

FRG, great points!

As for Lyon, I can't say I hate her. She is a highly qualified DP attorney who sincerely and vehemently does her job.

She is just what Casey needs at this point to provide her with the best defense possible. And, that's what I want for Casey.

There will be no justice for Caylee unless there is justice for Casey...

Anonymous said...

what you are saying makes alot of sense...thanks for keeping us informed. I think that law schools will be teaching future students about this bizarre case.

shari said...

These are Florida statutes regarding hearsay. There are some exceptions as to when hearsay MAY be used. Just copy and paste the above. The statute starts at 90.802 to 90.805.

ritanita said...

Anon @ 7:25, the class will be "How NOT To Practice Law".

Shari, thanks so much for the link. I've been spending a great deal of time reading up on heresay. It's not an easy deal to get through!

There are 24 exceptions to the hearsay rule; I guess the defense forgot about them...

FRG said...

I thought you might like to take a look at the correspondence to JS on March 9, 2010 (sorry if you have)

Nora said...

I can't believe the judge would throw out the first damning evidence in the phone calls that Caylee had been missing for over a month, the thefts, the smell in the car, and Casey's uncaring attitude about her daughter's "disappearance". What about the time the interview with Casey's brother (Lee?) was on tv and he said that "zanny the nanny" was their code phrase for taking Xanex?
Couldn't that be considered evidence and not heresay?

ritanita said...

Nora, I don't think that the defense can get away with saying that Cindy already knew Caylee hadn't been in her house for 31 days and that this wasn't anything new.

Nor can they convince Strickland that she wasn't under stress. Notice, the defense refers to what was said in the call, not the call itself. Just one quick listen and any person with more than half a brain would realize that the lady was crying, upset... She hadn't had the time to calm down since her last phone call!

It was more than likely that the moment Lee got the information that Caylee had been "kidnapped", Cindy raced to the phone.

IMHO, I believe the moment she heard that and tied it to the odor in the car, she knew Caylee was dead.

She's spent the last year and a half + trying to undo that call.

As for the code phrase, I don't recall Lee saying that. There's so much out there, I could have missed it.

shari said...

This case is going to be very interesting when it gets to the trial phase. As someone else said, this will be a "teachable moment" in some law professor's class. The family dynamics are going to be potentially explosive, and probably a nightmare for the defense. I hope the district atty.'s office continues to be as careful and precise as they have been so far. I cannot imagine sitting in jail this long until trial if I were "truly" not guilty. UGH!!!!!! I would be screaming for a speedy trial so I could clear my name and get out of jail. Casey seems to be very resigned to her jail cell and her new life. Puzzling! luv your insight ritanita.....

ritanita said...


I don't get the long jail stay either! Baez has said since day 32, when Casey retained him that she has "compelling reasons". Macaluso says the team knows for a fact that there is proof she is innocent!

Why let Casey stay in jail for well over 2 1/2 years if they have proof of innocence??

Sorry, sarcasm got the better of me today.

Nora said...

Thanks Ritanita - yes, absolutely right, anybody can tell that Cindy knew the smell of a dead body and that it had been in her car, and with Caylee missing, she put two and two together but I think there is a slight chance she might have been in denial. Terrified that it might be Caylee, but wanting the police to verify. (Denial seems to run deep in Casey family.) As to the Xanex video, I think that it was shown on Nancy Grace's show (but not 100% sure)...it could have been on the older courttv, too. I am fairly sure Nancy Grace knows of this, however, because I wrote to her a couple of times about it.

Tina said...

Thank you for putting all of this into plain English so we can understand the legalities of this case. Have you been following the Zenaida Gonzalez v. Casey Anthony defamation case as well? Although its not in the media as much as the case involving Caylee, I still find it interesting. I wonder what your thoughts would be on this lawsuit. If you haven't heard about it, the attorney trying to clear Zenaida's name has posted information about it on the Morgan and Morgan law firm website.

ritanita said...

Tina, I've followed the Civil Suit from the beginning. I really haven't had much to say about it because the criminal case has taken most of my time and attention.

At this point, the only outcome of this case that has really been telling is the issue of the depositions in the case. Whether this information will have any play in the criminal case isn't known.

I will be watching for any changes in the status of this case, rest assured.

FRG said...

Although I think you have received an alert on this article, well I am sorry if you did okay?
State has ‘severe concerns’ about Casey Anthony’s request to be declared indigent
The JAC said it is concerned with Casey Anthony’s request to have state funds used for part of her defense expenses
By Amy L. Edwards, Orlando Sentinel
3:32 p.m. EST, March 12, 2010

ritanita said...


LOL! I'm way ahead of you! Do read the next article up and I've provided links from the hearing last year about Casey's finances.